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This month marks two decades of growth for one of the city’s favorite music venues
Once upon a time in a squat building lined with cedar planks on East Bay Street, cofounders Carter McMillan and Kevin Wadley planted the seed for a live music club.
From its beginnings in 1991, the Music Farm flourished, hosting scores of local groups and introducing Charleston to an eclectic range of national performers, from Widespread Panic to Social Distortion. Artists such as Uncle Tupelo, Phish, and Hootie & the Blowfish germinated at the Farm before blossoming into arena-filling showstoppers.
Now under a fourth ownership group and in its second location, the enterprise continues to grow. Proprietors Marshall Lowe and John Ellison recently expanded the balcony and upgraded the sound and lighting systems. That consistency of show presentation—and the large stage, professional lighting, and expert management—paired with the intimacy of a mid-sized, general admission hall has made the Music Farm quite special. Along with its brick walls and cathedral-height wood-truss ceiling, the very absence of reserved seating has allowed true fans front-and-center access to the visceral energy of first-rate musicians. And while other music venues have cropped up and withered, the Farm continues to hybridize personalized event space with the ultimate rock showcase.
Twenty years later, friends from the venue’s early days continue to mix and mingle, reveling in high-quality artists, frequently with kids in tow. And so the Music Farm plows forward at 32 Ann Street.